'No extra help' for women affected by pension age increases

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Women who have been adversely affected by state pension age increases should not expect any extra help in the Autumn Statement, a pensions minister has signalled.

Chancellor Philip Hammond is due to set out his spending priorities on Wednesday and there have been calls for him to use the annual set piece to deliver support for those affected by the changes.

But Richard Harrington has insisted the Government's policy on the issue is "very clear" and that people should not believe "there is going to be any change in this".

Plans to increase the state pension age for women from 60 to 65 between 2010 and 2020 were initially set out in 1995.

But the coalition government decided to speed up the process in 2011, resulting in the state pension age for women due to increase to 65 in November 2018 and to 66 by October 2020.

Campaigners argue women affected have had to rethink their retirement plans at relatively short notice.

Shadow pensions minister Alex Cunningham asked Mr Harrington whether he or Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green had spoken to Mr Hammond about the possibility of the Autumn Statement including additional help for those most affected.

Mr Harrington replied: "As you know, I can do no better than repeat that the transitional arrangements have taken place, the Government policy is very clear and I would not like you to think or believe that there is going to be any change in this."

Numerous Labour MPs raised concerns about the increase in state pension age as they urged the Government to listen to calls for help from the Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) campaign group.

However, it was not only opposition MPs who called for action.

Tory Peter Bone (Wellingborough) said during work and pensions questions: "I just wanted to make it clear, it is not just on that side of the House that there are concerns about this.

"Of course we don't know what the Autumn Statement will say, but I do think we ought to at least keep options open to look at this because it's not very satisfactory the current state of affairs."

Mr Harrington said: "As you know public finance is very complicated. I know you intend to wait until Wednesday to hear what the Chancellor has to say.

"But I can tell you that this has been looked at long and hard, transitional arrangements of more than £1.1 billion have been put in place and the state pension age was discussed and enacted in 1995 to change.

"There have been further acts of Parliament and all of this has been extensively discussed."